The Indian government has finalized a long list of Information Technology rules which censor virtually all internet activity from online casinos in India to vulgar language. Both privacy advocates and technophiles agree that the new rules are a dangerous tool easily used to censor virtually any website, email, news article or instant message that the government finds offensive. The future of internet gambling in India is very gloomy indeed since online gambling is specifically listed as a prohibited activity.
The most outrageous aspect of the new rules is the government’s ability to unilaterally block any website for a myriad of vaguely defined reasons. Once an online website is blocked, no requirement exists for a public notification or even an explanation as to who ordered the block and for what reason. The rules fail to outline a clear process for lifting the block.
Online gambling news in India analyzed the critical parts of the Information Technology rules and their effects on the Indian online casino industry.
Sub Rule 2 proclaims that “internet users shall not display, modify, host, upload, publish, transmit, update or share any information that is harassing, blasphemous, harmful, pornographic, paedophilic, defamatory, obscene, invasive of privacy, libelous, hateful, racially or ethnically objectionable, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful.”
Sub Rule 2 also notes that “users cannot publish any material that threatens the unity, integrity, security, defense, sovereignty of India, friendly relations with other states, or public order.”
Sub Rule 4 orders Indian online hosting companies to delete all offensive material – ‘the intermediary, on whose computer system the information is stored shall act within thirty six hours of learning about such information and where applicable, work with user or owner of such information to disable such information”
Sub Rule 4 also states that “the intermediary shall preserve such information and associated records for at least ninety days for investigation purposes.”
The new rules are written in a very vague language which could be interpreted in a number of different ways, allowing the government to block any unwanted website for being ‘harmful, hateful or a threat to public order’.
These are dark times for democracy and freedom of speech in India as well as a horrible blow to all future Indian gambling laws